Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik, also known as the visionary Inuit throat-singing sister duo PIQSIQ (“pilk-silk”), are back with another installment of their holiday tradition—re-imagining Christmas carols through an Inuit and de-colonial lens.
This year they take on “Ave Maria,” composed by Franz Schubert. He based it on Walter Scott’s 1810 poem, “The Lady Of The Lake,” which was written without any religious agenda. After Schubert composed “Ave Maria” in 1825, it was subsequently co-opted by the Catholic Church as a plea to the Virgin Mary—“Ave Maria” meaning “hail Mary” in Latin.
“We wanted to call into question the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church through this song. We are soothed with messages of exalting an impossible version of womanhood through the Virgin Mary but the real life experience of women in the church is steeped in misogyny. Women cannot hold positions of meaningful leadership in the Church, can’t be ordained, and don’t have autonomy over their own bodies. Why are women the only ones shamed for abortions or the use of birth control? There should be no celebration for the lack of autonomy imposed on women and their bodies.”
“If anything, our relationship with Christmas continues to grow more and more complex. This year we saw the Pope visit Canada with very polarizing opinions from Indigenous people. There was a lot of lip service and acknowledgement of harm but no actual commitment to aiding in the prosecution of those who committed unspeakable crimes against Indigenous students and their families.”